Christians targeted for their faith at work was the topic that took center stage at an Iowa religious freedom rally Friday, where 2,500 crammed into the Iowa Events Center to support eight believers who were persecuted for not affirming
GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the religious persecution spreading across America a “war on faith” as a speaker at the rally.
“There is a war on faith in America today, in our lifetime,” Cruz told religious freedom supporters at the rally, MSNBC.com reports. “Did we ever imagine that in the land of the free and home of the brave, we would be witnessing our government persecute its citizens for their faith?”
Faithful bastions of the workplace
One of the eight Christians persecuted for her faith in her place of business was Betty Odgaard, who — along with her husband, Dick — was fined $5,000 for not allowing a homosexual couple to have a marriage ceremony at their wedding venue, which they ended up closing in July. While on stage at Friday’s religious freedom rally, Cruz asked Odgaard why she and her husband refused to submit to the pressure being put on them by state authorities and just give in to the LGBT agenda by doing business with homosexuals wanting them to provide services for their same-sex wedding ceremonies.
"We cannot celebrate a sin,” Odgaard expressed to Cruz before the Iowa crowd, according to the Texas Tribune. “We cannot take part in what we believe is a sin.”
Odgaard noted that her livelihood that was a way of life for her and her husband for well over a decade, telling of how it was stripped from them to forward the aggressive White House-supported LGBT agenda.
“We had worked for 13-and-a-half years to build this business and we lived there six days a week,” Odgaard expressed. “So it was very difficult to close the doors and walk away.”
Religious freedom advocates attending the rally believe that it’s about time Christians and political leaders are coming together to boldly champion the constitutional right to express and live out one’s faith — which includes doing so while at work.
"We're much more motivated than we've ever been before," said event attendee and Cruz supporter, John Wacker, who works as a manufacturing engineer in Garner, Iowa. "The court decisions and just the sense of urgency for our country — it's totally going in the wrong direction, and we just need to step up and be involved."
The amazing eight
Among the eight highlighted at the Iowa rally were Washington State florist Barronelle Struzman, print shop owner Blaine Adamson and former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who were either fined or fired for expressing their Christian views in some way, shape or form while in the workplace.
“Americans oppose unjust laws that strong-arm citizens to choose between their faith and their livelihood,” asserted Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell in defense of his three clients. “Barronelle, Kelvin, Blaine and numerous others like them around the country simply want to live out their faith and enjoy their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms without fear of punishment by the government.”
Struzman was ordered by a judge this year to pay a $1,000 fine and $1 in court costs and fees in a ruling stating that she violated Washington State’s anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws by declining to provide flowers for a longtime customer’s same-sex “marriage” ceremony. Adamson was originally found to be in violation of a Kentucky city law that bans discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation after he would not make t-shirts for the LGBTQ’s 2012 Lexington Pride Festival, but a circuit county judge overturned the 2014 decision this year. Cochran was forced to leave his position as head of the Atlanta Fire Department after he referred to homosexual behavior as a “sexual perversion,” comparing it to bestiality in a book he published and gave to a number of city employees.
Also featured at the rally were Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, who declined to bake a lesbian couple’s wedding cake and were subsequently ordered by the Oregon Labor Commission to pay them $135,000 in damages. Retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk’s appearance at the event highlighted how he was quickly reassigned to a new position in 2013 after arguing with his commanding officer about procedures for disciplining a subordinate who informed trainees about his personal religious convictions against homosexual behavior.
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Muslim-turned-Christian American pastor Saeed, also spoke at the rally, noting how her husband is still be jailed and tortured in an Iranian prison for expressing his faith — something she would hate to see happen in the United States with the growing intolerance of views opposing homosexuality.
No more … and not again
Cruz urged American Christian voters to take to the polls in the upcoming 2016 election to protect religious freedom.
"You wonder why we have a federal government that comes after our free-speech rights, that comes after our religious liberty, that comes after life, that comes after marriage, that comes after our values — it is because 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home [in the 2012 presidential election],” Cruz contended. "Well, I'm here to tell you, we will stay home no longer."
Cruz then promised that if he is elected president, protecting religious freedom in America would be a top priority from day one.
“On my first day of office, I will instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS and every federal agency that the persecution of religious liberty ends today,” Cruz proclaimed to a cheering Iowa crowd.